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Battling sex slavery in our own backyard

“Most people only think of human trafficking as something overseas, but it’s happening right here and right now.”

Imagine a 25-year-old woman moving to the east-coast and getting into the wrong crowd, having a drug dependency and then just disappearing. After being brought from Halifax, to the Toronto area, to Ottawa and about to be brought to the North Bay and Sudbury areas, this woman escaped to the aide of police where it was discovered she had been a victim of human trafficking.

Night after night, hotel after hotel, man after man—from six to eight a night—this women was dragged down, helpless, her ID stolen from her and her life without hope until her escape.

This is only one of countless instances where Canadian victims are being pulled from their lives into the pit of human trafficking.

It’s because of stories like this that Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott decided to take action against the nightmare-like ‘industry’ and introduced the Saving the Girl Next Door Act to combat human trafficking in the province.

“It’s a difficult topic, she said. “Most people only think of human trafficking as something overseas, but it’s happening right here and right now.”

The first part of the bill, proclaims a day of awareness for human trafficking to aide in creating more public education and understanding for the growing crisis. Police Chief Shawn Devine said being aware of the issue and able to identify the signs and alert authorities was imperative to helping prevent more cases, as well as saving current victims from their plight.

The second component addresses the ability to expand current legislation in a way that has an immediate impact. The bill will make it possible for a protection order to be taken out directly against the trafficker and would force the perpetrator to stay away from the survivor for a minimum of three years—a length of time, Scott said, that is needed before a victim can begin to heal the from the trauma and begin life anew.

“Our current laws do not match the complexity of what this crime has turned into. It’s time to take action now,” she said. “Ontario is far behind other provinces. I have been calling for the set-up of a task force for nine months starting last May, and have been working continuously with survivors, police and victim services providers in relation to my Select Committee work.”

With the evolution of the Internet and the advent of social media, Scott said it has never been harder to combat this issue, and it has never been easier for traffickers to select and take victims.

“Traffickers range from an individual who can lure them in under the guise of a relationship to complex criminal networks,” she noted. “We can’t quantify how many victims are being swallowed up by this nightmare, but we know it’s growing at a rapid rate.”

Scott said this is happening to our communities and the girls next door are turning into victims. “We need to take action.”


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Ryen Veldhuis

About the Author: Ryen Veldhuis

Writer. Photographer. Adventurer. An avid cyclist, you can probably spot him pedaling away around town.
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